(Editor’s Note: We welcome this guest post from Mason Foster. Mason is a commercial photographer specializing in portraiture. He is also the co-founder of Two Dudes Photo, a full-service photography and video production company based in California. He is also a DNP ambassador. Learn more about Mason at twodudesphoto.com.)
As we navigate these unprecedented times, it’s important that we take measures to keep ourselves and our clients safe during photoshoots without sacrificing the quality experiences we want to deliver.
In this article, I will outline a few tools and simple adaptations you can add to your portrait business to keep you safe and provide a comfortable experience with your clients.
Making your client feel comfortable
Fortunately, portrait photography is a medium that is well suited for a socially distanced world. Assuming you’re shooting with a longer lens, you will generally always be able to maintain plenty of space between your client while shooting. Additionally, equipment such as lighting, reflectors and flags can be setup in advance (and wiped down afterward) to create a truly touchless experience.
As areas have started to reopen, we’ve had many more clients express that they feel most comfortable with outdoor photoshoots. However, they still want the studio look that we are known for. This can be difficult in full sun, but certainly isn’t impossible.
While not all of us have a medium format camera system with a leaf shutter, there are many ways to eliminate and/or overpower the sun when shooting outdoors:
- Use flags (or find open shade) to prevent any direct sun from falling on your subject
- Set your lights to full-power to shoot at a larger f-stop
- Use lighting with high-speed sync to shoot at a faster shutter speed
Any or all of these methods should give you back control of your lighting, the way you’re used to in the studio or in an office. Of course, when shooting outdoors, you’ll always want to bring plenty of sandbags to fight the greatest outdoor enemy — the wind!
Creating a touchless print experience
In an effort to keep everything touchless, we have also changed the way we deliver photos to clients, both physically and digitally. When providing print proofs (which we would typically hand directly to a client), we use a remote print station — by using a DNP DS620A printer paired with the DNP WCM (Wireless Connect Module), we can deliver prints over Wi-Fi using AirPrint.
The print station can be anywhere, as long as it’s on the same network! We never have to leave our shooting station. Our guests can pickup their own print proof, eliminating yet another touch point.
For digital sharing, we normally have an iPad or touch screen monitor displaying our Simple Photo Share event, so that guests can email or text themselves their images. Recently, in order to remove any shared devices, we’ve started setting up a vanity URL for each client.
Since Simple Photo Share galleries are essentially responsive webpages. We can simply forward the vanity URL to the gallery and guests can access their photos on their own phone, tablet or computer. This is a nice touch, since it’s an inexpensive way to provide a custom, branded experience. It also eliminates a touchpoint where guests would normally be sharing a device.
It’s a difficult time to be a portrait photographer. But as businesses bounce back, the demand for portrait work will bounce back, too. By implementing a few adjustments to eliminate touch points — and making your clients feel more comfortable — we may all be able to push this timeline up some.